Indian businessman to invest in Saudi pharma sector

B.R. Shetty signed on Monday an agreement with Prince Turki Bin Mohammed Bin Nasser

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A UAE-based Indian billionaire will make investments worth SR1 billion in healthcare and pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in the new Jazan industrial city.

B.R. Shetty, chief executive officer and managing director of New Medical Center Group of Companies and UAE Exchange, signed here on Monday an agreement with Prince Turki Bin Mohammed Bin Nasser, director of international trade at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Sheikh Rafik Mohammed, chairman of the Gammon Group, to establish the pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in the city.

Prince Turki has been appointed by the Saudi government as the authority to develop the SR75 billion city.

Meanwhile, Jazan Emir Prince Mohammed Bin Nasser also received Shetty at his office on Monday. During the meeting, the emir promised to extend all possible help to meet India’s much sought after demand to establish a joint venture project in oil refinery field.

Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony, Prince Turki welcomed Shetty and his partners to tap the huge potential of Saudi healthcare market.

“The government’s policy is to encourage and support foreign investors to play a great role in developing our economy.

“The state-owned Saudi Industrial Development Fund will pay the investors 75 percent of their project cost in interest-free soft loans for 20 years,” he said.

Commending Shetty’s significant role in popularizing affordable quality healthcare in the Gulf, Prince Turki said: “It’s an immense pleasure for us to have a leading Indian investor coming to Jazan with big investments. Shetty is enough for us as he can bring his partners to the Kingdom, and this will be good signal for other investors to come and invest,” he said.

Praising Indian expatriates’ sincerity to work and honesty in dealings, he underscored the need to further boost the excellent relations with India.

Shetty announced that he will invest SR1 billion to build a top quality hospital and Neopharma drug manufacturing plant in Jazan. “I have ambitious plans to tap the potential of this holy land, blessed by God, by making investments first in Jazan, then in Jeddah and Riyadh. Plans are underway to spread wings of our UAE Exchange to the Kingdom,” he said, adding: “I think it is the right time I entered this great country, which is an ideal destination for investments.”

Shetty, whom Forbes Magazine listed in March this year as the fourth richest expatriate billionaire in the UAE, said that the Neo Pharmaceuticals (Neopharma) plant in Jazan would concentrate mainly on manufacturing medicine for cancer and dengue fever.

“Our thrust will be on making available halal medicine in the Saudi local market,” said the businessman.

During the signing ceremony, Prince Turki launched logos of S.M Marketing and Services, and Fast Logistics Care.

The ceremony was also attended by Prasanth Manghat, chief financial officer of NMC Health; Eyad Khaleel Al-Aukeli, adviser to Prince Turki; Mohammed Sayed, managing director of S.M. Marketing and Services, and Abdurahman Thahir, managing director of Fast Logistics Care.

According to the agreement, Prince Turki will assist in procuring license and other legal compliances from the government of Saudi Arabia for running the pharmaceutical manufacturing/processing plant in the name of Neopharma, represented by its CEO Shetty, and will allot the land in the industrial city for free of cost to establish the factory and facilitate loan equal to 75 percent of the project cost. Gammon will be responsible for providing assistance to Neopharma in doing all documentations and compliances which are needed to establish the plant. The new industrial city is expected to create nearly 100,000 job opportunities.

Prince Saud Bin Musaed Bin Abdulaziz is the president of the Gammon Group. The group signed on Dec. 9, 2013, an agreement with Prince Turki to develop the city by bringing in foreign investors to build its entire infrastructure facilities such as roads, bridges, commercial centers, power plants, water treatment plants, oil refineries and petrochemical plants. The city will be located close to the Jazan seaport, making it easy for companies to export their products.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 12, 2014.